World War II: Victoria Cross Recipients of British Indian Army: Part I
About 2.5 Million Indian soldiers of British Indian Army fought against Japanese, German and Italian forces in the various parts of the world in Second World War. British Indian Army especially fought in Burma, Malaya, Singapore, Africa, middle East, Italy and India-Burma Border. About 70,000 Indian soldiers were killed in the various battles, hundreds of thousands were wounded.
Total number of 30 soldiers and officers of British Indian Army received Victoria Cross, the most important and prestigious military decoration in British Empire. This is a short introduction to the Victoria Cross Winners of British Indian Army during World War II.
I have divided this article in 3 parts, each part containing brief information on 10 winners of Victoria Cross Medal. This is the first part of the article. Next two parts will be published soon.
Captain Michael Allmand
Michael Allmand was born in London, England on 22nd August 1923. In 1942, he joined British Indian Army as a commissioned Officer. On 11th June 1944, he was commanding a platoon of 6th Gurakha Rifles in Burma. His task was to attack Pin Hmi Road Bridge which was captured by Japanese soldiers. Despite of adverse situation and a heavy resistance from the enemy, Allamand and his soldiers succeeded to capture the bridge. Allamand himself destroyed gun positions of enemy by throwing hand grenades, and finally in a hand-to-hand fight he killed three Japanese soldiers with his Kukri, a unique knife used by Gurkha soldiers. After two days, in an action, he personally killed many Japanese machine gunners who were responsible for heavy causalities on his side.
In his next action, Michael Allmand, the brave Captain attacked Railway Bridge at Mogaung in spite of suffering from trench-foot. He personally destroyed enemy machine gun nest. But this time he was seriously wounded and died after a short time.
He was awarded Victoria Cross posthumously for his superb gallantry, protracted heroism and outstanding leadership.
Tul Bahadur Pun
Tul Bahadur Pun was a rifleman in 3rd Battalion of 6th Gurkha Rifles in British Indian Army during Second World war. His story is related to Capatain Michael Almand's campaign to takeover of Mogaung Railway Bridge.
His Battalion was ordered attack and capture the Railway Bridge at Mogaung in Burma. Accordingly, they attacked the bridge on 23rd June 1944. There was an enemy position Red House, which opened a heavy cross fire. In this cross fire, the whole section of Tul Bahadur Pun's company was wiped out, except his Commander, himself and a soldier. All of the three men continued their attack on the Red House, but the Commander and other soldier were seriously wounded. But Tulbahadur Pun continued the attack alone. Taking a risk of crossing a distance of 30 Yards on open ground, he reached the Red House. He killed 3 Japanese soldiers there, and other five ran away. He captured two LMGs and heavy ammunition. Then he gave cover fire to other section of his platoon.
He received Victoria Cross for his gallantry.
Premindra Singh Bhagat
Premindra Singh Bhagat was born on 14th October 1918 at Gorakhpur in India. He was commissioned in British Indian Army after completing his education from Indian Military Academy. During Second World war, he was posted in Middle East. Hist task was to command a section of a company, to clear the road and minefields. Within four days he cleared 55 miles of distance, being ahead of the company all the time. He himself detected and cleared 15 minefields. Despite of attacks by enemy and heavy casualties, he didn't stop. One of his eardrums was punctured during an explosion, but he refused any relief, and continued his task.
Premindra Singh Bhagat received Victoria Cross for his great job during the war.
Arthur Edward Cumming
Arthur Edward Cumming (1896-1971) was a Scottish, born at Karachi in Biritish India in 1896. During World War II, he was commanding 2/12th Frontier Force Regiment of British Indian Army as a lieutenant colonel. His job was to defend an airfield during the Battle of Malaya.
A Japanese force made a furious attack on Arthur Edward Cumming's Battalion. on 3rd January 1942. Cumming immediately reacted with a counter attack with a small number of his men. All of the soldiers engaged in this counter attack died and he was seriously wounde. Despite of injury and heavy fire, he drove in a carrier collecting isolated detachments of his men. his action helped the brigade to withdraw safely.
He received Victoria Cross for his bravery.
Naik Fazal Din
Naik Fazal Din was Naik in British Indian Army during Second World War. He belonged to 7th Battalion of 10th Baluch Regiment. His battalion fought against Japanese forces in Burma Campaign.
On 2nd March of 1945, he with his men attacked a Japanese bunker position. Despite of Machine Gun Fire and Grenades coming from the bunkers, Fazal Din successfully silenced a Japanese position by hurling grenades to it. He and his men were ready to attack other positions, but few Japanese soldiers and 2 officers attacked them with swords. One Japanese officer was killed immediately by a gunner, but the latter was killed by the second Japanese officer. The Japanese officer stabbed his sword through Fazal Din's chest. As the officer withdrew his sword, Seriously wounded Fazal Din snatched away it and killed the officer with it. Then he killed two Japanese soldiers with the sword. Inspired by his action, his platoon defeated Japanese Army. But before it, Fazal Din died as he was seriously wounded.
He was awarded Victoria Cross posthumously.
Naik Yeshwant Ghadge
Yeshwant Ghadge was a Naik in 5th Maratha Light Infantry of British Indian Army. He was 22 years old and posted in Italy in 1944 during World War II. He was commanding a rifle section which came under heavy machine gun fire by the enemy. All the men in the section except Yashawant Ghadage were killed. But he, without any hesitation, attacked the machine gun position and silenced both the machine gun and gunner. Then he killed another gunner. But then he was killed by an enemy sniper.
Yeshawant Ghadage was awarded Victoria Cross posthumously.
Gaje Ghale was a Havildar in 2nd Battalion of 5th Gurakha Rifles of British Indian Army. During World War II, a battle took place between Japanese Army and a Platoon of Gurkha Rifles in China Hills of Burma. The platoon of young Gurkha soldiers lead by Havildar Gaje Ghale attacked strong Japanese position. Gaje Ghale was seriously wounded in the enemy fire, but he made attacks after attacks on the enemy position and encouraged his men to do the same. His inspired platoon was successful in capturing the enemy position.
Havildar Gaje Ghale was awarded Victoria Cross for his great leadership and bravery. Later he was promoted to the rank of Hon. Captain.
Bhanbhagta Gurung joined Gurkha Rifles of British Indian Army during world war II when he was 18 years old. He was a rifleman in the 3rd Battalion of Second Gurkha Rifles which was deployed in Burma during 2dn World War.
On 5th March 1945, Gurung and his unit was suffering from heavy causalities because of firing by enemy sniper at Snowdown East. As Rifleman Gurung was unable to fire on the sniper in lying position, he stood up and despite of heavy fire he succeeded to kill the sniper with his rifle. Thus he saved his unit from further causalities. Advancing further, the unit again came under fire. By hurling grenades, Gurung killed two Japanese in a fox hole. Then he killed one more Japanese soldier in another fox hole with his bayonet. He cleared four fox holes one by one single handedly, in spite of heavy fire from the enemies. Then he went forward alone and as his hand grenades being finished, he flung two smoke grenades in the enemy bunker. Two Japanese soldiers ran out of the bunker. Gurung killed them with his Kukri, a unique knife the Gurkhas use. His men took up positions in the bunker. Soon there was a counter attack from enemy, but Gurung and his small number of men foiled it.
He received Victoria Cross for his outstanding bravery and leadership.
Lachhiman Gurung was a Rifle Man in 4th Battalion of 8th Gurkha Rifles of British Indian Army. He was just 4'4" tall. His Battalion was posted in Burma during World War II.
On 12th and 13th May of 1945, 200 Japanese attacked the Platoon of Lachhiman Gurung. Gurung was in most forward position of the Platoon. He and his officers were seriously wounded in the attack. A hand grenade had exploded in his hand. Despite of this, he loaded and fired his rifle with his left hand for four hours. Later, when the causalities were counted, it was reported that there were 31 bodies of Japanese soldiers around his position. He did it with just one arm.
He received Victoria Cross for his bravery.
Thaman Gurung was a Rifleman in the 1st Battalion of 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles of British Indian Army. The Battalion was deployed in Italy in 1944 during World War II. On 10th November of 1944, Thaman Gurung was one of the two scouts to a fighting patrol. The two scout reached enemy base undetected. The enemy soldiers were preparing for machine gun fire on leading section of Gurkha Rifles. To stop them Thaman Gurung suddenly appeared before them pointing his gun. Surprised enemy soldiers surrendered without opening fire. In another actions, Gurung taking a heavy risk of crossing sky line for two times, opened fire on enemy positions until his ammunition ran out. Then he hurled hand grenades on enemy position. Further, he seized a Bren Gun and ran on the top of a hill and opened fire on enemy positions. His actions helped his men to withdraw safely from enemy fire, but Gurung was killed in this battle.
He was awarded Victoria Cross posthumously.
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